Grindhouse shoots for summer opening

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt November 19, 2014
Photo obtained via

Photo obtained via

The owner of Grindhouse Killer Burgers is hoping to start serving Decatur residents by this summer.

Alex Brounstein appeared before the Decatur City Commission on Monday, Nov. 17, seeking a zoning variance for 433 North McDonough Street, the future location of the restaurant. The restaurant is located in a Special Pedestrian Area and is subject to certain requirements. But Brounstein to waive one of them and keep two curb cuts for two one-way driveways.

Grindhouse has four locations, including an Athens store that opened last year. Brounstein said that store only has one driveway and it’s caused some problems.

“People pull in and they find the parking lot is full,” Brounstein told City Commissioners. “It’s caused several accidents.”

Decatur City Planning Director Amanda Thompson said that normally the company would have to pay for sidewalks, trees and lighting for this kind of project. The location in question is slated for a major streetscape improvement and the city is waiving those requirements because ultimately, it would be a waste of money. The company is purchasing four street lights as part of its compromise with the city.

Assistant City Manager Hugh Saxon told commissioners, “The fact they’re contributing the four lights is a pretty good contribution.”

“The lights are really one of the most expensive things we put into the streetscape,” he said.

Brounstein told Decaturish that with this hurdle out of the way, he will begin applying for the other permits he needs to get started, which could take about six months.

Grindhouse has been open since 2009 and its first location was the Sweet Auburn Curb Market in Atlanta. It’s known for good, modestly-priced burgers and boozy milkshakes.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Steve G. Watkins

    Ugh, can’t we stop with the fancy burger joints. When will this fade end? Not like you can’t find a good burger already in this town.

  • Peripatetian

    A decision based on an opinion based on an

    A business owner wants to open a burger place in Decatur, picks a property, and
    attempts to use an off-the-shelf, drive-around/drive-through suburban site
    design (like Chick-fil-a, McDonald’s, etc.). The business owner appears to be
    unaware of Decatur’s special pedestrian area ordinance with requirements
    designed to “encourage, protect and enhance the pedestrian environment” (yes,
    to protect PEDESTRIANS). The Decatur Downtown Development Authority reviews the
    initial proposal, finds a number of shortcomings, and requires multiple design
    changes to meet SPA requirements. However, the owner feels he cannot change the
    design to use only one driveway and then requests an exception to the single
    curb cut requirement, justifying the request with no more than personal,
    anecdotal evidence about traffic at ONE of his stores. In essence, he claims
    that the exception will make it easier (and allegedly safer) for DRIVERS to
    patronize the restaurant (see

    Despite having recognized the site design’s other problems and requiring the
    applicant to make changes, the DDDA endorses the SPA exception request and goes
    even further to state that “It is our opinion that the narrow one-way driveways
    located on either side of the building actually provide a safer experience for
    pedestrians.” The DDDA offers no evidence to support the opinion and neither
    does the Planning Director in passing it on. (And apparently no one who holds
    the opinion has experience as a pedestrian crossing the one-way driveways of
    the McDonald’s on Commerce.) Nonetheless, the Planning Commission and the City
    Commission both vote to approve the exception, ignoring the SPA requirement and
    relying instead on an opinion that one-way driveways are safer. And they grant
    it for a property directly across the street from our high school – where
    pedestrian safety should already be of utmost importance but, in this
    situation, should be of even greater concern because the new business is likely
    to attract many of those children to walk to that destination.

    Did anyone involved in the process consider the possibility that this property
    was just not the right place for this business if the owner insisted on a site
    design not meeting the pedestrian area requirements? Is it somehow the
    responsibility of our city officials to help salvage the plans of business
    owners who don’t take the time to consider ordinance requirements before they
    pick their locations? Is Decatur really that desperate for another fast food

    And so Decatur ends up with a decision based on an opinion based on an
    anecdote. And that decision can now be cited as a precedent in future requests
    to suspend special pedestrian area requirements. Is the city serious about
    cultivating a walkable environment, or only about marketing a reputation for
    one? And, more importantly, does this process reflect the kind of
    decision-making we want from our city staff and government?

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